Miriam Margolyes opens up on frustration caring for paralysed mother She forgave me

Miriam Margolyes emotionally recalls hitting paralysed mother

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Miriam Margolyes often catches interviewers off-guard with her potty mouth and straight-talking nature, but it was she who was caught off-guard in a recent episode of the BBC’s Imagine. The 80-year-old actress, who has racked up credits such as Harry Potter and Call the Midwife, revealed how “frustrating” and difficult it was to care for her paralysed mother at times. 

Chatting about the release of her best-selling autobiography, This Much is True, the star admitted she wished she hadn’t left some details of her past out of her book.

In a short video teaser for the BBC show, presenter Alan Yentob asked: “Are there things that you haven’t spoken of?”

Miriam replied: “I didn’t mention something that I should have mentioned.

“And that was I hit my mother when she was paralysed.”

The star noted how “frustrating” being a carer can be, which other carers would probably relate to.

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She continued: “Anyone who’s been a carer will know how frustrating and difficult it is, and I let that happen. I’m deeply ashamed of it.”

Reminiscing, speaking of the memory, a teary-eyed Miriam added: “The thing that really gets to me is that my mother forgave me.

“I hit her when she was paralysed, and she forgave me.”

Her mother was the “centre” of her life as was she to her, and her momentarily lapse in judgement haunts her to this day. 

Although teary, she spoke fondly about her mother and their bond and stated: “Mummy’s girl!”

“I don’t hear many people talk about ‘mummy’ as though mummy was still there,” commented Alan.

The star’s memoir dives into her past and her family life, with the author sadly blaming coming out to her parents in the 1960s for their deaths.

Her mother, Ruth, suffered her first stroke when she was 27, just days after Miriam told her that she was a lesbian and was in love. 

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In her book, Miriam said: “She and my father insisted I come into the drawing-room and swear on the Torah never to have relations with a woman again. I did as they asked, but I broke my promise.”

Ruth went on to have another stroke just months later, which eventually led to her death.

Miriam wrote: “I always believed that my coming out in some way caused it.

“I had caused the person I loved most in the world a pain she could not bear. It was a horrendous time, and I was very unhappy. I knew I couldn’t change what I was; I should not have told them.”

The BBC special also has a whole host of Miriam’s friends and colleagues who she has met throughout her long career.

Featured in the show are actors such as Richard E Grant, Charles Dance, Dame Eileen Atkins, Patricia Hodge, Tony Robinson and Dame Vanessa Redgrave. 

The star won a Best Actress in a Supporting Role BAFTA for her portrayal of Mrs Mingott in Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence and has toured the UK in her popular one-person show Dickens’ Women. 

Imagine… Miriam Margolyes: Up for Grabs is available on BBC iPlayer now.

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